A couple of years back, my parents and I were planning our annual family holiday to Brittany, France. Usually, we booked the gites through reputable brochures and suchlike. However, this one summer, we decided to try finding a gite on the Internet.
We soon stumbled across a rather lovely looking farmhouse in the south of Brittany. It was everything we were after. Rustic looking, but all mod cons, large garden, in the centre of a village - not far from a main town or the beach. The owner's contact details were on the web site and so we gave him a ring. He seemed like a genuine nice guy and was pleased to offer us the farmhouse for our two week holiday.
So off we went. Happy and joyous, and thoroughly looking forward to our holiday. It's about day's drive to Brittany from our house in England, and so by the time we reached the village, the sun was setting and we were all pretty knackered. We drove through the village slowly, following the owner's directions. The farmhouse was meant to be right at the end of the village and so, we kept driving, past a school... Some ramshackle farm buildings... A few houses... And then suddenly, we were on the road again... Driving past fields. We turned around, driving back, certain we had missed a turning or something, somewhere.
Then it hit us. Those ramshackle old farm buildings included our farmhouse gite.
We could not believe it at first. It had to be some kind of sick joke. But it wasn't. In the centre of some kind of courtyard, surrounded by crumbling sandstone buildings, sat the farmhouse. The moment we drove into the yard, an eerie feeling swept over us. None of us mentioned it until afterwards, but we all said that we each felt instinctively that we weren't welcome there. The courtyard was full of weeds, paint was peeling off the outside walls... The windows were open, and net curtains were blowing in the wind. Honeysuckle grew over and around the door and there was an melancholy coldness to the place. We wandered around into the backgarden, were fresh washing was on the line...and, wait for it... A live peacock was tethered to a post in a chicken wire cage!
Unnerved, but aware we were paying quite a lot for this holiday, we decided to look inside. The kitchen looked like something out of the dark ages. Cracked tiles and cobbles on the floor... An iron cooker... Cupboard doors hanging off their hinges. Then think of the darkest, dankest most disgusting shade of mulberry you can. That's what the walls were smothered in.
Upstairs, there were three bedrooms. The room with a double bed, the biggest, was the most normal looking of all of them, despite the uneven flooring, mussed up bedclothes strewn everywhere and broken glass across the floor. The room which would be mine was on a huge slant, and my "wardrobe" was a branch nailed outside the door behind a curtain.
But the worst was to come in the third bedroom.
A four poster bed was squashed into a tiny room, taking up the majority of the space. Its curtains, thick, dark velvet, were ripped and hanging off the rails around the bed. The moment I entered that room, I felt as if someone was watching me. You know the feeling you get when someone's reading over your shoulder? Like that.
We stared, dumbstruck at the sight before us, appalled that anyone could treat their house like this. But then, I glanced up at the wall, and saw a small painting hanging. It was of a countryside scene - but what really disturbed me was the figure in the painting. A little girl, dressed in a white frock stood, staring out. But what really got me going was that she was pointing at the bed.
After a quick family conference, we all decided that we couldn't... or rather wouldn't stay in that house. We tried going to a B'n'B, but after a few days of trying to salvage it, we went home, feeling as though our holiday had been ruined from the start.
I swear, to this day, that there was something really wrong with that painting, and that house. Nothing happened... No objects flew... No tapping on shoulders or anything like that, but something really did not want us there, and to this day, I get chills whenever I wonder about what might have happened if we had decided to stay in that house.